Premier League players will no longer routinely kneel before matches, the league announced ahead of the new season.
Players began breaking their knees during Project Restart, following the unlawful killing of George Floyd in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement that followed.
Aston Villa’s televised match with Sheffield United kicked off a top-flight attitude that has since been replicated in the domestic leagues and beyond – and caused controversy with the UK government when England players were booed as they lined up ahead of Euro 2020 last summer.
A number of individual clubs and players have recently announced they will stop taking the knee, and now the Premier League is following suit more than two years after the initiative was first introduced.
Players will still kneel before certain rounds of matches, including the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals, as well as Boxing Day matches and No Room For Racism rounds in the Premier League.
The Premier League said in a statement: “Ahead of the new season, Premier League club captains have reaffirmed their commitment to combating racism and all forms of discrimination.
“The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to kneel to reinforce the message that racism has no place in football or in society.
“The Premier League supports the players’ decision and, together with the clubs, will use these opportunities to raise anti-racism messages as part of the League’s no place for racism action plan.”
As a collective, the Premier League’s 20 captains added that they will use the “significant moments” of the upcoming season to take a knee.
“We remain committed to eliminating racial prejudice and creating an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all,” they added.
The Premier League also announced that £238,000 will be donated to a number of youth clubs on behalf of club captains, with £119,000 coming from royalties on ‘No Room for Racism’ sleeve badges sold on club shirts in 2021/22. and a number corresponding to the Premier League.
PFA boss: ‘Balance’ decision
Maheta Molango, the first BAME chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, said the Premier League captains had reached the decision to find a “balance” in how to show their support.
He said: “We have always been clear that choosing a knee should be a personal decision for each individual.
“We’ve talked to the players about it and we’ve heard that they want to find a balance. They don’t want the knee gesture to become routine so it potentially loses its impact.”
“However, they are also determined to use their platform and their voice to continue to highlight what remains a hugely important issue not only in England but across the world.”
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